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1. (WO2019045733) PARTICLE AGGLOMERATION FOR ADDITIVE METAL MANUFACTURING
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CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. An additive manufacturing method, the method comprising:

spreading a layer of a powder across a powder bed, the powder including granules, and each granule including an agglomeration of first metallic particles in at least one component of a binder system;

reflowing the granules along a predetermined two-dimensional pattern in the layer, the at least one component of the binder system from the reflowed granules binding the first metallic particles in the layer to one another and to one or more adjacent layer; and

repeating the steps of spreading and reflowing for each layer of a plurality of sequential layers to form a three-dimensional object in the powder bed.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the at least one component of the binder system has a melt temperature of greater than about 100 °C and less than about a melt temperature of the first metallic particles.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein a temperature difference between the melt temperature of the at least one component of the binder system and a burn off temperature of the at least one component of the binder system is between about 100 °C and about 300 °C.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein reflowing the granules along the predetermined two-dimensional pattern in the layer includes chemically dissolving the at least one component of the binder system agglomerating the first metallic particles in the granules.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein reflowing the granules along the predetermined two-dimensional pattern in the layer includes, from a printhead moving across the powder bed, jetting a liquid including a solvent of the at least one component of the binder system.

6. The method of claim 5, wherein the at least one component of the binder system is water soluble, and the solvent jetted from the printhead includes water.

7. The method of claim 5, wherein the solvent jetted from the printhead includes one or more of hexane, alcohol, and limonene.

8. The method of claim 5, wherein the binder system includes a first component and a second component, the first component agglomerating the first metallic particles in the granules, and the liquid jetted from the printhead including the second component.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the first component is different from the second component.

10. The method of claim 8, wherein the second component cross-links the first component.

11. The method of claim 8, wherein the first component and the second component have different melt temperatures.

12. The method of claim 8, wherein the first component includes one of polyethylene glycol, peracetic acid, and polylactic acid, and the second component of the binder system includes another one of polyethylene glycol, peracetic acid, and polylactic acid.

13. The method of claim 1, wherein refl owing the granules along the predetermined two-dimensional pattern in the layer includes, in the granules, thermally dissolving the at least one component of the binder system.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein thermally dissolving the binder of the granules includes directing thermal energy from a laser to the granules along the predetermined two-dimensional pattern.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the thermal energy is controlled to heat the granules along the predetermined two-dimensional pattern to a temperature greater than a melt temperature of the at least one component of the binder system and less than a burn off temperature of the at least one component of the binder system.

16. The method of claim 1, wherein the at least one component of the binder system includes an organic binder.

17. The method of claim 1, wherein the at least one component of the binder system includes one or more polymers.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the at least one component of the binder system includes one or more of polyethylene glycol, polyethylene, polylactic acid, polyacrylic acid, and polypropylene.

19. The method of claim 1, wherein a volume percentage of the binder system in the three-dimensional object is about one-third.

20. The method of claim 1, wherein the first metallic particles include a plurality of metals alloyable with one another.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the plurality of metals includes two or more of tungsten, copper, nickel, cobalt, and iron.

22. The method of claim 1, wherein the first metallic particles in respective granules are lightly sintered to one another.

23. The method of claim 1, wherein the powder further includes second metallic particles mixed with the granules, and the at least one component of the binder system from the reflowed granules binds the first metallic particles and the second metallic particles in the layer to one another and to the one or more adjacent layers.

24. The method of claim 23, wherein the granules and the second metallic particles are substantially uniformly distributed in each layer of the plurality of sequential layers.

25. The method of claim 23, wherein the first metallic particles have an average particle size smaller than an average particle size of the second metallic particles.

26. The method of claim 25, wherein the second metallic particles have an average particle size in a microparticle range.

27. The method of claim 25, wherein the first metallic particles have an average particle size of about 1 micron to about 5 microns.

28. The method of claim 25, wherein the first metallic particles have an average particle size in a nanoparticle range.

29. The method of claim 23, wherein the first metallic particles include a first material, and the second metallic particles include a second material different from the first material and alloyable with the first material.

30. The method of claim 29, wherein the first material includes a metal matrix composite.

31. The method of claim 29, wherein the first material has a first hardness, the second material has a second hardness, and the second hardness is less than the first hardness.

32. The method of claim 29, wherein the first material and the second material are alloyable with one another to form steel.

33. The method of claim 32, wherein the second material is iron.

34. The method of claim 32, wherein the second material is stainless steel.

35. The method of claim 32, wherein the first material is one or more of tungsten carbide, tungsten carbide-cobalt, and molybdenum.

36. The method of claim 29, wherein an alloy formed of the first material and the second material has a smaller grain structure than an alloy formed of the second material alone.

37. The method of claim 23, wherein the first metallic particles include a first material, and the second metallic particles include a second material different from the first material and unalloyable with the first material.

38. The method of claim 37, wherein the first material includes tungsten and the second material includes copper.

39. The method of claim 37, wherein the first material includes molybdenum and the second material includes copper.

40. The method of claim 1, wherein the granules have an average particle size of greater than about 20 microns and less than about 100 microns.

41. A powder for additive manufacturing of a three-dimensional object, the powder comprising: first metallic particles; and

at least one component of a binder system, the first metallic particles agglomerated in the at least one component of the binder system in the form of discrete granules flowable relative to one another to form a layer having a thickness greater than about 30 microns and less than about 70 microns.

42. The powder of claim 41, wherein the first metallic particles have an average particle size of greater than about 1 micron and less than about 5 microns.

43. The powder of claim 41, wherein the first metallic particles have an average particle size in a nanoparticle range.

44. The powder of claim 41, wherein the discrete granules have an average particle size of greater than about 20 microns and less than about 100 microns.

45. The powder of claim 41, wherein the discrete granules are substantially spherical.

46. The powder of claim 41, wherein the first metallic particles include a plurality of materials alloyable with one another.

47. The powder of claim 46, wherein the plurality of materials includes two or more of tungsten, copper, nickel, cobalt, and iron.

48. The powder of claim 41, wherein the first metallic particles in respective granules are lightly sintered to one another.

49. The powder of claim 41, wherein the at least one component of the binder system is water soluble to reflow the at least one component of the binder system in the discrete granules.

50. The powder of claim 41, wherein the at least one component of the binder system is soluble in one or more of hexane, alcohol, and limonene to reflow the at least one component of the binder system in the discrete granules.

51. The powder of claim 41, wherein the at least one component of the binder system includes an organic binder.

52. The powder of claim 41, wherein the at least one component of the binder system includes one or more polymers.

53. The powder of claim 52, wherein the at least one component of the binder includes one or more of polyethylene glycol, polyethylene, polylactic acid, polyacrylic acid, and polypropylene.

54. The powder of claim 41, wherein the at least one component of the binder system has a melt temperature of greater than about 100 °C and less than a melt temperature of the first metallic particles.

55. The powder of claim 54, wherein a temperature difference between the melt temperature of the at least one component of the binder system and a burn off temperature of the at least one component of the binder system is between about 100 °C and about 300 °C.

56. The powder of claim 41, further comprising second metallic particles, wherein the discrete granules are dispersed in the second metallic particles in a flowable mixture.

57. The powder of claim 56, wherein the second metallic particles have an average particle size greater than an average particle size of the first metallic particles.

58. The powder of claim 56, wherein the first metallic particles include a first material and the second metallic particles include a second material different from the first material and alloyable with the first material.

59. The powder of claim 58, wherein the first material includes a metal matrix composite.

60. The powder of claim 58, wherein the first material has a higher hardness than the second material.

61. The powder of claim 58, wherein an alloy including the first material and the second material has a smaller grain structure than an alloy formed of the second material alone.

62. The powder of claim 58, wherein the second material and the first material are alloyable with one another to form steel.

63. The powder of claim 62, wherein the second material includes iron.

64. The powder of claim 62, wherein the first material includes one or more of tungsten carbide, tungsten carbide-cobalt, and molybdenum.

65. The powder of claim 56, wherein the second metallic particles have an average particle size in a microparticle range.

66. The powder of claim 56, wherein the discrete granules have a first angle of repose, the second metallic particles have a second angle of repose, and the first angle of repose and the second angle of repose are substantially equal.

67. The powder of claim 56, wherein the first metallic particles include a first material and the second metallic particles include a second material different from the first material, the first material and the second material unalloyable with one another.

68. The powder of claim 67, wherein the first material includes a metal matrix composite.

69. The powder of claim 67, wherein the first material has a higher hardness than the second material.

70. A three-dimensional object comprising:

a plurality of layers, each layer defining a respective two-dimensional pattern;

particles dispersed in each layer, the particles including a plurality of different materials; and

a binder system including at least one component, the binder system binding the particles in each layer to one another and to one or more adjacent layers, and the three-dimensional object sinterable to form a brown part having microstructures of at least one of the plurality of different materials distributed in a matrix of at least another one of the plurality of different materials.

71. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein the different materials of the plurality of different materials are alloyable with one another.

72. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein the particles include first metallic particles and second metallic particles, the first metallic particles having an average particle size less than an average particle size of the second metallic particles.

73. The three-dimensional object of claim 72, wherein the second metallic particles have an average particle size in a microparticle range.

74. The three-dimensional object of claim 72, wherein the first metallic particles have an average particle size of about 1 micron to about 5 microns.

75. The three-dimensional object of claim 72, wherein the first metallic particles have an average particle size in a nanoparticle range.

76. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein each layer has a thickness of about 50 microns.

77. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein at least one of the plurality of different materials is harder than at least another one of the plurality of different materials.

78. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein at least one of the plurality of different materials includes a metal matrix composite.

79. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein an alloy formed of the plurality of different materials has a smaller grain structure than an alloy formed of at least one of the plurality of different materials alone.

80. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein the different materials are alloyable with one another to form steel.

81. The three-dimensional object of claim 80, wherein at least one of the plurality of different materials includes iron.

82. The three-dimensional object of claim 80, wherein at least one of the plurality of different materials includes one or more of tungsten carbide, tungsten carbide-cobalt, and molybdenum.

83. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein the different materials of the plurality of different materials are unalloyable with one another.

84. The three-dimensional object of claim 83, wherein at least one of the plurality of different materials includes tungsten.

85. The three-dimensional object of claim 83, wherein at least one of the plurality of different materials includes one or more of molybdenum and copper.

86. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein the at least one component of the binder system includes an organic binder.

87. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein the at least one component of the binder system includes one or more polymers.

88. The three-dimensional object of claim 87, wherein the at least one component of the binder system includes one or more of polyethylene glycol, polyethylene, polylactic acid, polyacrylic acid, and polypropylene.

89. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein the at least one component of the binder system is soluble in water.

90. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein the at least one component of the binder system is soluble in one or more of hexane, alcohol, and limonene.

91. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein the at least one component of the binder system has a melt temperature of greater than about 100 °C and less than a melt temperature of the plurality of different materials.

92. The three-dimensional object of claim 91, wherein a temperature difference between the melt temperature of the at least component of the binder system and a burn off temperature of the at least one component of the binder system is between about 100 °C and about 300 °C.

93. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein the at least one component of the binder system includes a first component and a second component, and the first component is different from the second component.

94. The three-dimensional object of claim 93, wherein the first component and the second component have different melt temperatures.

95. The three-dimensional object of claim 93, wherein the first component and the second component are cross-linked with one another.

96. The three-dimensional object of claim 70, wherein a volume percentage of the binder system in the three-dimensional object is about one-third.